Newtown businesses are currently deciding on what projects a proposed Business Improvement District (BID) for the town could carry out. The BID, if it is successful at a ballot early next year, would allow 500+ businesses in Newtown to operate and invest collectively, for the greater good of the town.
Funded through a Welsh Government grant and Powys County Council, the appointed consultants, Revive & Thrive, have been working with local businesses to capture feedback, for what a BID might deliver for Newtown.
The new BID company would not replace existing services, such as street cleaning or waste collection, CCTV or parking rights, as these services are already delivered by public sector agencies and would be protected by baseline agreements between the Councils and the BID, agreed in writing prior to the vote. Although the BID may pay for additional services, if so desired, the baseline agreements protect the town from service reduction for the five-year duration of the BID term.
Some ideas already proposed by Newtown businesses include, a Town Champion delivering marketing / tourism promotion, encouraging business start-ups, promote buying local, organising new events, improved street scene, lit pathways for runners and walkers, installing improved signage on the bypass and on industrial estates, collective lobbying voice and promoting Newtown far afield to encourage people to visit, live and work here.
As a BID company is not restricted to annual budgets, as local authorities can be, an underspend in one year may be rolled over into a larger project in a subsequent year. The collected fees may also be used as match funding to secure further monies, for greater projects.
Critics have often referred to a BID as being another tax on businesses, but supporters of BIDs argue that they are an investment in the businesses, staff, environment and towns that have them.